Saturday, March 30, 2013

Bowdoin: in loco parentis; plum loco; paternalism; V-day; common-sense; and the children.

Sometimes everything just comes together.

Bowdoin College never ceases to amaze us with the diversity of its idiosyncrasies, idiocies, cognitive dissonances, and various other forms of cosmic silliness.  Not to mention its self-absorption.

Recently, as we munched on turkey on wheat, we leafed through the pages of the latest Bowdoin Orient, ‘the nation’s oldest continuously published college weekly.’

The “SECURITY REPORT: 2/28 to 3/27” caught our attention for what it reveals about the student body.

Herewith some examples:

  • A window was broken and a toilet vandalized during a registered event at Ladd House.  (A bit of further research revealed that the toilet was indeed vandalized, with ‘accompanying contents on floor.’)
  • A student placed an electric tea kettle on a hot stove burner at 24 College Street.  The kettle melted and activated the fire alarm.
  • A rear hatch window on a student’s vehicle was accidentally shattered when the hatch was closed onto two beer kegs that didn’t quite fit into the back.
  • Holes were kicked into a basement wall at Quimby House.  (Alcohol related, per official report.)
  • Two intoxicated students set off a smoke alarm in Coles Tower by burning magazine paper with a lighter.  The students were cited an environmental health a safety violation and a hard alcohol violation. (sic, sic)
  • A student backed his vehicle out of the Baxter House driveway and collided with a flashing crosswalk sign post.  The post was destroyed.
  • There are too many other marijuana caused smoke alarm activations and alcohol violations to bore you with, but you get the drift.

Kids will be kids, you say.  True enough, but these are the elite ‘kids’ of our era, spending small fortunes to swallow the collective wisdom of the Bowdoin faculty.  This is the crème de la crème, giving more to the college than they get by their very presence on campus, and in Brunswick.  Just think…in a decade or two, they could be Senators, Representatives, or Cabinet Members.  Or even worse.

So much for their silliness, or if you will, plum loco behavior.  Let us give you a few examples of their other crises:

  • A student reported the theft of a neon green North Face bag from the women’s locker room (they have separate, gender based spaces??) at Morrell Gymnasium.  The bag contained white spinning shoes, Under Armor spandex pants, North Face shorts, and a Ben & Jerry’s T-shirt. (Brand fixation, anyone?)
  • Two students with flu symptoms were escorted to Parkview Medical Center.
  • A student who cut her finger on a door in Reed House was taken to Parkview Medical Center.

No doubt the last two items were life threatening, and we suppose you yourself have needed escorted transport to the local hospital because you cut your finger or suffered from flu symptoms.  Who hasn’t?

But then you complain about the costs of our health care system?  Can you imagine the costs associated with these visits to the Emergency Room?

We hear ‘for the children’ often enough around here, mostly as a bludgeon to raise school budgets.  From the reports just cited, it sounds like our ‘young adults’ are unable to escape a ‘for the children’ profile.

College, at least in our experience, was first and foremost the thrill and growth experience of being independent.  That meant applying your own Band-Aids, doing your own wash, and taking aspirin if you got the flu.  Along with, we admit, some stupid stunts. 

Regardless, we are convinced that while we may not have been as intellectually advanced in our era as the Bowdoin students of today, we were a damn sight more mature in understanding reality.  And tending to ourselves.  Not to mention having gained more common sense.

Now let’s go full circle.  You’re all aware of the feminist movement of the last several decades, and its revulsion over our ‘paternalistic society.’  A signature aspect of the movement is an obsession with V-day and related rituals stemming from The Vagina Monologues.  Bowdoin has been prominent in celebrating this holy day, Under Armor spandex pants or not.

Now we learn that a Bowdoin Faculty member recently elevated to tenured status, Sarah Conly, has published a book called “Against Autonomy: Justifying Coercive Paternalism.”

Amazing stuff.  We have no doubt that any female member of the Bowdoin Faculty is a card-carrying feminist, which makes any proposal for returning to paternalism seem like a grand-standing move.  Especially when the book will cost you $95.

Couple it with the apparent lack of common sense amongst the Bowdoin student body, at least as portrayed in the Security Report, and the traditional ‘in loco parentis’ role of a college, especially an elite, self-absorbed, $60,000 a year college, and you have a highly amusing confluence of idiocy, inconsistency, and lunacy.

We can understand how Conly came to believe we need dictatorial help from others to protect us from ourselves. All she had to do was read the Bowdoin Orient on a regular basis. Based on student body sampling provided therein, she’d quickly conclude a whole lot of supposedly intelligent, nearby adults need attentive and benevolent  ‘fathering.’ (Seminars on growing up, choices and consequences, and related behavioral breakthroughs will have to wait until another day.)

So Conly proposes to protect students and the rest of us, and oh by the way, prevent us from learning life’s lessons on our own. All because anointed elite can do this for us; so what if we have to give up a little (or a lot) of freedom, independence, and autonomy to achieve her coercive utopia?  Noblesse oblige, as they say.

Has anyone else heard that Mike Bloomberg is planning on building a retirement compound here in Brunswick?

As we said when we began, sometimes everything just comes together.

And sometimes it doesn’t.  You make the call.

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